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Resort in Indonesia Wins World Savers Award 2013

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Nihiwatu Resort on Sumba Island, Indonesia, has been named as a “World Savers Award 2013” winner.

 Every year, Condé Nast Traveler (US) honours travel companies that are doing their bit to help save the planet, from fighting climate change to protecting wildlife and alleviating poverty.

Co-founded by Claude Graves in 1998, Nihiwatu was recently sold to J. Christopher Burch, founder and CEO of Burch Creative Capital, in partnership with hotelier James McBride.

Nihiwatu’s origins were not initially based on building an hotel with philanthropy in mind. Graves wanted a good beach which was identified on the Indonesian island of Sumba. In the process of development, the dire local needs, from clean water to medical care were clearly apparent. In 2001, Nihiwatu turned to guests for help and established the Sumba Foundation to oversee the charity work and provide transparent reports to donors. More than US$4.9 million has been donated to the foundation to date, with guest contributions averaging about US$5,000.

In each community it enters on the beautiful but impoverished island, the foundation first digs wells, then launches a malaria control program, and finally builds a clinic so that no one has to walk more than two miles for care.

 The impressive results so far are the installation of 60 wells supplying clean water to 20,230 people and 16 schools in 205 villages. More than 20,000 people in 400 villages have benefited from free malaria testing; 9,000 have been treated and provided with free mosquito nets; and 286 infants and children have been saved from malaria-related deaths at the 5 foundation clinics.

Nihiwatu is everything a luxury traveller has come to expect from a remote getaway; thatched-roof villas with private plunge pools overlooking the Indian Ocean and elegant fixtures handcrafted from local stone and teak. Guests have the option to get involved.

A ten-page booklet in each room highlights initiatives that need funding, and in the bar, the property shows a short film on the efforts of the Sumba Foundation.

In addition to diving, fishing, surfing, and indulging in spa treatments, guests are encouraged to tour the projects. You can take a horseback ride through the jungle, for example, and visit villages with employee Data Daku who, as a result of the fund-raising efforts of the Sumba Foundation has sent his brothers, sisters, and children to college following support from the foundation’s scholarships.

The foundation is also undertaking a reforestation project which is planting 15,000 teak trees a year. Each season the nursery distributes some 5,000 saplings to 30 families that have joined the project. With the first harvest in 2025, they may share in income distribution of as much as US$3.5 million each year.

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